Marketing your business: upping your marketing game

Your financial planning business is going well, and the time has come to take your marketing activity to the next level. The challenge is, you’re not Apple or BMW so you don’t have the coolest piece of new technology to showcase or the latest car to tempt your audience with. And, sadly, it’s unlikely that you have their marketing budget either.  

Instead, compared to many consumer products, you offer an intangible service that potential clients may not see the value in paying for, and to build your marketing presence, you must do the best you can with limited resources.

So where do you start? 

“I hesitate not to pronounce, that every man who is his own lawyer, has a fool for a client.

The flowers of wit, by Henry Kett, 1814

My first piece of advice would be to work with a marketing professional who really knows what they are doing.  For most firms who lack the scale to justify hiring an in-house specialist, this will mean working with an outside consultant or agency. If you do this carefully and get the right fit, you will be able to combine your respective areas of expertise and get an outcome that is greater than the sum of its parts. 

Where is the pool?

There are a lot of marketing professionals looking for work – it’s a big pool of talent.  However,

finding a good match both for you and your business is going to be key.  Luckily, you have a few options available to you. You could go for a marketing and communications specialist who covers all areas and who will be able to help you showcase your value across all your distribution channels. Or, if you want to focus on your online, social media and email marketing then a digital expert might add more value. Really, there are no limits to what can be achieved (time and budget aside!).

As with any hiring process, it will come down to a combination of skills and personality fit. However, the more you can clearly articulate your aims at the initial interview stage – or consultation if this is an external agency – the better you are able to determine whether the individual or their firm will be able to help you in the longer term.  Your new hire may have a lot of discretion when deciding how they will help you achieve your outcome, but never underestimate how important understanding your objectives will be upfront, especially if this is a brand-new role for your business.

I would also highly recommend that you investigate some of the financial services specific job boards. This will ensure you are targeting people with industry expertise, something I’m confident you will need, especially if they are going to be in a standalone role. These job boards can be expensive though, so another option is leveraging social media platforms and your networks, which can be much more cost effective.

Dipping your toe in

If you don’t feel you are quite ready for a full-time person you could, of course, hire a part-time employee for this role, however you may want to test the water by hiring an agency first, for a few reasons:

  1. You can test them out on a smaller project first, see if you like their work and if they can deliver good results
  2. You can test the agency model. Will this work for your business? Is it preferable to bringing the skills in-house?
  3. Agencies often have many different skills and can help across multiple aspects, saving you trying to find one person who can cover all the areas of marketing. They can also flex their support up and down depending on your budgets and needs at that time.

One way to get a good indication of agencies that could provide the right solutions for you is to find examples of “services” marketing that you like, then research who created it and explore more of their work. This could give you a good indication of which agencies could provide solutions that will work for you and your business.

Another option is to use your network of colleagues, friends, and other individuals in the industry for referrals. Ultimately, all good agencies should be willing to sit down with you, provide examples of work and showcase how they have helped similar businesses, so never be afraid to ask.

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Regardless of where or how you source marketing support, my advice would be select individuals and agencies with financial services expertise. Marketing and messaging how you add value in your profession is specialised and an individual who is great at marketing ecommerce businesses or fancy cars won’t be best placed to help you.

Once you have the right hire onboard though, the world, as they say, is your oyster.